Activist & Pioneer Nurse
Celebrating Bruce Weber RN – Seniors Advocate Toronto Island
Bruce is recognized by everyone on Toronto Island, population 700 of which most are seniors and struggling to stay at home. Enter Bruce who organizes Drs. appts, arranges for wheelchairs where required, accompanies the physician on rounds to dispense vaccines. He has been on the Island for some 50 years and makes himself available for all needs.
Bruce graduated from the Quo Vadis School of Nursing class of 1975 a 2 year nursing program for adults – very progressive school at the time. He organizes the alumni and sends out newsletters to its members. He did successfully support a luncheon last Sept. (before lockdown) with Lynn Mcdonald guest speaker presenting on Florence Nightingale and well received. He is also an active member of the North America Nightingale Society group (12 of us) which meet now via zoom and promotes Nightingale and her accomplishments 3-4 times a year.
A little history: Bruce was born and raised in Kitchener Ontario. Prior to graduating from Quo Vadis, he held a degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario. He had been involved in urban planning for many years. Upon graduating as a nurse he worked in the Orthopedic Hospital and Arthritic Hospital for a number of years. He says he entered nursing to see the human side of life.
He loves to travel and has been to Asia and South America frequently and in particular Cuba but his greatest joy is helping his friends and residents on the Island.
Bravo to you Bruce!
Year In Review!
2020 was a year of change and adjustment as we entered the first wave of Covid-19. On March 11 the World Health Organization declares Covid-19 a pandemic March 17. A state of Emergency was called in Ontario and our world as we knew it changed. Prior to these dates many plans had been made for Nursing Week celebrating Nightingale’s Bicentenary. The changes were drastic with lectures, conferences, lunches and galas cancelled and all face to face meetings. Zoom became the new norm. Frontlines nurses entered into many challenges and restrictive measures.
A Year into the Pandemic – Nurses Exhausted & Angry
April 2021 Hospital News Page 4
Linda Silas is a Nurse, and President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Association
As the anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic has come and gone, nurses across Canada are at their breaking point. We are exhausted, burned out and angry. Nurses are on the frontlines of the pandemic and our health care system every day. We see its problems in brutal detail, and have the experience to know what’s needed to fix them. We have repeated called on decision makers to address critical staffing shortages and provide basic protections to keep workers safe.
We continue to be disregarded and the results have been devastating!
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the number of COVID -19 cases among health care workers has tripled since July 2020. As of January 15, 65,920 health workers have been infected with COVID -19 virus, representing 9.5 percent of all infections in Canada. More than 40 health workers are known to have died from the illness. In our troubled long term care system, insufficient staffing and safety protocols have contributed to a national tragedy. About 25,000 health care workers infected are in long term care. More than 14,000 vulnerable residents are known to have died from COVID 19, representing 70 percent of all deaths in Canada. It didn’t have to be this way!
As early as January of last year, the Canadian Federation of Nurses unions began urging governments across Canada to heed the lessons of SARS and adopt a precautionary approach. This meant assuming the virus was airborne and protecting health-care workers-potential vectors of transmission-accordingly.
Despite similar efforts by unions across the country, health-care workers have been put at unacceptable risk, with implications for their families, patients, and communities. Most health care workers, even those caring for COVID-19 patients, were only provided flimsy surgical masks, and in many jurisdictions, masks were reused until they were soiled and damaged. Faced with supply issues, N95 respirators were often locked away.
It took the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) until Jan 2021 to acknowledge what unions and many experts have said all along. Health care workers are at risk of airborne transmissions when in close proximity to an infected person. Yet PHAC still does not require healthcare workers in COVID-19 units and hot zones to wear protection from airborne transmission, such as N95 respirators.
Similarly, provinces across Canada have failed to update their guidance to adequately reflect what we now know about the virus and how it spreads. Only Quebec has followed the scientific evidence to its natural conclusion. As of Feb 11 2021, Quebec requires health – care workers in COVID -19 hot zones to wear an N95 respirator or superior level of protection. As new variants circulate in Canada, dramatically increasing the rate of transmission, burned out health care workers are under pressure. Without actions, health staffing, which is already in short supply, could become depleted even further. We must not let this happen!
We know from experts and evidence that there is a desperate need for more staff, not less. The long standing cycle of budget cuts, short-staffing, and higher workloads has eroded the health care workforce and quality of patient care. A major investment in the retention and recruitment of nurses is needed now or is likely we will see an exodus from the profession as burnout takes its toll.
It’s time for governments across Canada to take their heads out of the sand and show their respect and appreciation for health care workers. A good first step would be to act on our calls for better workplace safety and staffing. Had decision makers heeded the nurse’s warnings prior to the pandemic, perhaps many more lives could have been saved.
Thoughts from Sophia
As Nursing Week approached, I find myself reflecting on my almost thirty years of Mental Health Nursing practice. I question if it has paid homage to Florence Nightingale’s legacy. Last year, I joined an Inclusion and Diversity committee at the hospital I work at. I was pleased to see other nurses on the committee including as co-chair.
So for this year’s Nursing Week, I have decided to highlight the work of myself and fellow nurses, not limited to science based nursing interventions, but also our work as agents of diversity and inclusivity . Following Florence’s footsteps, we nurses have a long history of advocating inclusion for all. But it has never stopped at advocacy. We take our practice to where it’s needed. Sometimes it’s under a bridge or in a city park, serving people without access to housing. Other times its working with Doctors without borders. And sometimes, as in my case this year, it’s giving my voice and time to a committee that is advocating for workplace inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community at my hospital.
During this pandemic, we have taken on different roles and learned new skills all in an effort to meet society’s current health care needs. There are many other examples I could give but what is most important, is that each and every example makes it clear that every human being has a right to access nursing care, and that we respect and fight for that right. The examples also highlight a simple truth: Inclusion and Diversity remain central to Florence Nightingale’s legacy. I wish Everyone a Happy, Safe and Hopeful Nurses Week!
Sophia Lilly RN
Who Is Florence Nightingale
- Activist and pioneer in Nursing
- Born in 1820 in Florence, Italy
- Established the first nursing school worldwide in London, England
- A mentor and role model in Nursing
- Author, systems thinker and pioneer public health reformer
Definitions On Health
Available upon request. We look forward to sharing it with you.
Definitions assist us to reflect and understand our nursing practices and ourselves. Take a look and submit your own definition on Health. What does it mean to you?
1. World Health Organization (WHO)
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health is not only to be well, but to be able to use well every power we have.
Health is a recognition of health limits and an ability to seek treatment with compliance towards a balance physically and mentally with optimal function.
Definition On Nursing
1. Virginia Henderson, Nurse Theorist, 1966
The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery or to a peaceful death that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible.
This definition has been adopted by the International Council of Nurses and distributed around the world.
The phrase “unusual kindness” is of a religious nature – Act 28.2, and covers Nightingale in reference historically. It makes you think how important it is to be kind to each other and patient as well. With the stresses upon us it is easy to snap and be unruly in how we communicate. Nurses are known for being caring but kind as well – most important at these times.
Did You Know?
Nightingale was well ahead of her time!
She had identified the correlation between the physical hospital environment and health outcomes of patients.
Her strong credentials in the use of statisticians saw her become the first woman inducted into the Royal Statistical Society in 1858 in the UK.
In Collaboration with Dr. Lynn McDonald Professor Emerita
Lynn is an author of several books on Nightingale-most recently; Florence Nightingale, Nursing, and Health Care Today and the Collected Works of Nightingale. She is also a climate activist, prison reformer and former Member of Parliament. You can connect with her for more information on Nightingale in Backgrounders at www.nightingalesociety.com. She is cofounder and current chair of The Nightingale Society and has been a great support and inspiration to us throughout the last year. We do connect with her and other nursing colleagues from California and Ohio on a regular basis- sharing ideas on how best to recognize and promote Nightingale.
You are invited to check the Nightingale Society website to review updates on Nightingale’s work, such as new publications, upcoming conferences, and yes, sadly, attacks on her.
The Nightingale Society supports recognition of her as the major founder of professional nursing, hospital reformer and pioneer of evidence-based nursing – still relevant, if not more so – in pandemic times. Nightingale, an icon for so many years, came under attack in the 1980s and, while refutations based on primary sources have come out, yet more attacks appear. Making an icon tumble makes news.
The Nightingale Society has a website, with short items on her work. These include her work as an anti-racist, and one introduces Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, the first Black nurse in Britain’s National Health service, and the major founder of nursing in Nigeria. She was a “Nightingale nurse,” inspired by Nightingale.
See The Nightingale Society: https://nightingalesociety.com/
The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale has a website, with short papers on her available for free: https://cwfn.uoguelph.ca/
We encourage you to join as a member of Nightingale Society, simply send an email saying “Join” to firstname.lastname@example.org
In appreciation Lynn McDonald, Professor Emerita, Guelph